Tuesday

17th Jan 2017

Cameron: No second chance after Brexit vote

  • Cameron: "This is a vital and final decision for our country" (Photo: Number 10)

British prime minister David Cameron warned that the UK would not be able to negotiate another deal, and have another referendum in case British voters chose to leave the EU in a referendum set for 23 June.

Cameron, who sealed a deal with fellow EU leaders last week on a reformed UK membership of the EU, set out the agreement to lawmakers Monday.

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In a thinly veiled attack on London mayor Boris Johnson, who Sunday said he would support the UK leaving the EU and suggested that a better deal for the UK and another referendum would be possible after a No vote, Cameron said: “This is a vital and final decision for our country”.

The Conservative Party leader outlined to lawmakers that if British voters voted to leave, he would invoke article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, the mechanism for exiting the bloc.

It would trigger two years of negotiations, after which the UK would be presented with a package by the EU.

Cameron warned however that after two years if there is no agreement then exit is automatic, unless all other 27 members agree to delay it.

“It is not an invitation to rejoin,” Cameron said, adding this would create uncertainty, endanger jobs, as 53 trade deals and access to the single market would be cut immediately.

Aiming at his Tory rival, Johnson, and his idea of a second referendum, Cameron said: “I won't dwell on the irony that some people who want to leave want to use a leave vote to remain. I know a number of couples who have begun divorce proceedings, but none who have done so to renew their marriage vows”.

Risk national security

Cameron warned the House of Commons it was not the time to divide Europe, amid threats from ISIS and Russia.

“The challenges facing the West today are genuinely threatening ... In my view this is no time to divide the West,” he told parliament.

“The only person I can think of who would like us to leave the EU is Vladimir Putin,” he added.

Cameron also warned that a vote to leave the EU would risk Britain's economic and national security.

The fear of Brexit drove Britain’s currency, the pound sterling, down to its lowest level in almost seven years, when it was in the midst of the financial crisis.

The pound has traded as low as $1.406, a fall of more than three cents (or 2.3 percent) since Friday night.

Moody’s credit rating agency also warned that Brexit would be bad for the UK economy.

In an apparent rebuttal of comments made by senior Tory politician Iain Duncan Smith, Europe's policing agency said Monday that Britain's citizens could be left more vulnerable to attacks by terror groups and organised crime gangs if they decided to leave the European Union.

"I see a very clear picture of the UK's dependency on the EU to help protect its security interest," Europol's director Rob Wainwright said in The Hague.

He warned the UK "will no longer have the benefits that it currently has", direct access to databases, taking part in intelligence projects and other areas.

Duncan Smith had said that remaining in the EU made the UK more vulnerable to a Paris-style terrorism attack.

Brussels not in campaign mode

The European Commission said Monday it would not take part in the campaign to keep Britain in the EU.

“The commission will not campaign, will not take part in the campaign,” spokesman Margaritis Schinas told journalists.

“I don't see the commission having a role in a campaign that is for the British people and the British people alone,” he added.

The commission has not always been so firm. The EU executive strongly supported the ‘Yes’ vote in the lead up to a Greek referendum on the EU-IMF bailout terms in July last year.

“A 'No' would mean ... that Greece had said no to Europe,” EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker had said ahead of the vote.

Analysis

Turkey holds key at last-ditch Cyprus talks

The Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders meet from Monday to Wednesday, before an multilateral conference on Thursday that could endorse a reunification settlement. Talks could still fail on Turkey's role.

Opinion

Populism is not a coherent transatlantic trend

Analysts have been keen to bundle together the election of Donald Trump in the US and the rise of right-wing populists in Europe. Pew research suggests this is premature.

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